Here's the scoop. I do storytimes for seven hundred kids a week. That's four kinder classes, six first grade, five second grade, six third grade, three fourth and three fifth grade classes. Seven hundred kids. That's twenty-seven storytimes* a week. And I'm talking full-on, puppet-weilding, costume-wearing storytimes per week.
And it's not the same story every time, folks. Each grade-level gets a different one (thank goodness or I'd go crazy doing the same thing twenty-seven times.) Half of these stories are memorized (in the tradition of the old storytellers) and half of the time I showcase a book.
People, (especially, agents, editors, publishers and authors), I know what kids like.
Little kids like:
Funny stuff (Like the pigeon, etc. It is funniest to them if they are IN on the joke.)
Quiet books (Like Mama Do You Love Me, or Good Night Moon, or Litte Raccoon's Big Question) Books you can read in the softest of voices to great masses of kids. The kids are quiet because they can tell by the text that they should be.
Picture books that tell a great story but DON'T HAVE TOO MANY WORDS (Parents also tend to put down a book if there is too much text on the page....admit it, you've done it, too. That's because kids get restless.) A restless audience is no fun.
Books with Rhythm/predictable launguage/familiar structure (because they want to read with you before they can read by themselves...if they can predict what's coming, you get kid-buy-in.)
Older kids like:
Funny stuff (Like Captain Underpants and on from there....they like stuff that seems like it shouldn't be in a book.....they like to be humoruosly surprised.)
Fantasy books (Books that build worlds far, far away from school for them....but still have the kid element. Harry Potter is the classic example.)
School books (Like the Wayside School series. Books that are realistic, but not.)
Books that make them FEEL (Okay, really, kids want to love books. They do. Give them something that makes them emotionally respond. This is why Goosebumps and other Scary stuff is so popular. Being frightened is way better than being bored.)
I am the most accurate kid-book-test-marketer in the world!!
So, if I say kids love a particular book, I know what I am talking about.
P.S. So, if any agents, editors or publishers want any of my stuff, I can guarantee you that all of my manuscripts are kid-tested and approved!
*Okay, so with the older kids, we write a lot and don't have stories every week, but I ask them to show me the books they are reading for fun, so once again, I know what I am talking about. LISTEN!